Grayson/Hardin/Davies County ARES assist SAR

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As you heard at as the HC ARES Net was closing last night, ARES was requested for comms for the search for the light plane missing near Rough River State Park. It was believed that it was within a few miles of the airfield there, but the terrain is hilly and forested.

About 40-50 people representing a number of groups, agencies, and counties were there. Going by memory (W8QAS has the paperwork), there were about 9 Amateurs registered and serving in communications, plus several more with CAP and other organizations but not registered as hams. I was from Hardin Co, W8QAS and one or two more from Grayson Co, most of the rest from the Owensboro area. There were 3 CAP teams and about 5 other teams on the ground, with about 3 light planes and one helicopter in the air; joined in the afternoon by a military chopper. (W8QAS will correct and complete the details when he has time).

An Amateur Radio Operator was sent with several of the ground teams, operating on the KY simplex frequency; CAP used VTAC11; two or three area fire frequencies were in use; and the Westview repeater to relay hourly updates to WA4YPQ in E’town.

We set up behind the airport building, using W8QAS’s truck to support two antenna masts, each with a dual-band J-pole (plus American flag and ARES pennant). Four (4) dual-frequency Kenwood radios were used as we had to operate and log up to 7 frequencies constantly. The equipment worked flawlessly; earphones were required when planes were departing or whenever a helicopter was on the ground. Power for the rigs was from a deep-cycle lead-acid battery. A park ranger brought us a canopy (a neglected item by Roy and me); with the partial overcast and breeze it was quite comfortable tho warm. The young CAP members had excellent comms, as expected.

Red Cross provided lunch, hydration, and snacks. They had to be brought in from Leitchfield, so getting them there took a while. There was a handy tree with several picnic tables which provided them with a good location. Their services were much appreciated.

A number of radio and TV stations had crews there by mid-afternoon. They were from a number of locations, several of the calls not familiar to me. They were all still there when I secured about 1600 ET, waiting for a final briefing. I have no info on the crash site except it was located from the air, not too far from the airfield.

We were only called out “for communications”, so we didn’t know what would be needed. Therefore, both W8QAS and I took a lot of gear. Most of it was needed! Figuring out frequencies, etc, went smoother than usual on a SAR as a couple of the firefighters were also hams and on top of things.

In the pictures take from the airfield side, the operating position is under the American flag and ARES pennant, Red Cross is set up under the tree right behind us. Note the 4 radios, plus a couple of HTs and other stuff, on the table.

Again, a number of counties, agencies, and organizations were involved; a number of FDs, the CAP (a bunch of guys and gals), EMS, SAR groups, ARES, several EMs, pilots, and others. The local EM and the others were greatly appreciative of our coming down and providing the comms for them, and helping provide closure.


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